Juventus Turin -0.5 and -1 vs. Ajax Amsterdam, O/U 2.5
These two teams played to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday, and Juventus were thanking their stars they brought in Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo scored Juventus’ lone goal after a daring run through Ajax’s back line just before the half, and he headed home a nice cross from Joao Cancelo to give the Italians a crucial away goal.
Ajax leveled just after the break as the result of a David Neres strike, and while they didn’t get the result they wanted, they have to be happy with the way they played. The Dutch club largely controlled possession, and they had more chances than Juventus too. Ajax finished the match with 19 shots compared to just 7 shots for Juventus, and the hosts put six shots on goal while the visitors managed just one.
This is the reason why Ronaldo was brought in for a record fee in the offseason. He is the Champions League’s all-time leading goal scorer by a wide margin, and he showed his European prowess once more. Mario Mandzukic and Douglas Costa had their moments, but it was largely Ronaldo that impressed on the attack.
It’s a shame that we won’t get to see this Ajax team grow together. This young, talented team will be broken up as players are sold off over the summer, but they have really impressed against the best teams in Europe. They overcame a home loss to Real Madrid in the last round to stun the defending champions in the second leg, and they have a shot to double down here.
Frenkie de Jong has gotten a lot of the attention for Ajax, but Neres was the man of the match on Wednesday. Hakim Ziyech, Dusan Tadic, and Donny van de Beek also shined, and they created numerous chances against Juventus’ back line that they couldn’t convert.
Wojciech Szczesny had a big day in goal for Juventus, and he might need a repeat performance here. Regardless, I really like what I have seen from Ajax, and I think they will end up advancing.
FC Barcelona -1 and -1.5 vs. Manchester United, O/U 3
Manchester United became the latest team to stun Paris Saint-Germain and send them crashing out of the Champions League, overcoming a 2-0 home deficit to beat PSG in Paris 3-1 in the second leg to advance. They will be looking to do that again after a 1-0 loss to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League tilt.
Wednesday’s match was relatively even. The Blaugrana controlled possession as expected, but Manchester United had more shots than the visitors and had some good chances. The game’s lone goal came early when a Luis Suarez header at close range deflected off of Luke Shaw and into the net.
The Red Devils have a number of things going against them in the second leg. They will be playing in Camp Nou, and they are dealing with a lot more injuries than Barcelona. Additionally, they are likely to be a bit more fatigued as they are likely to use the majority of their first team against West Ham this weekend, while Barca can rest players after essentially clinching La Liga last weekend.
In the end, Lionel Messi and Suarez will be too much. Messi was somewhat held in check after getting his nose busted open in the first leg, but he will make his presence felt to push Barca through.
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